Pohlman will lead from inside looking out
Gary Pohlman will be watching from the inside looking out as he will be leading the 2018 Veterans Day parade as this years Grand Marshal on Monday, Nov. 12. As usual, the parade will begin at 11 a.m. and run through downtown Beloit on Mill Street.
Pohlman, a Army Veteran has been setting up the parade for numerous years and retired last year, turning over his duties to Dennis Shoemaker and the Sons of the American Legion Post 143 in Glen Elder.
"I feel it is a big honor to be chosen to lead the parade as Grand Marshall," said Pohlman. "I have always tried to find WWII and Korean War Veterans. I wasn't involved in an active war, but served my country and have a lot of respect for the military."
Pohlman was born and raised in Clifton, Kans. and graduated high school in 1962. He played a lot of sports from an early age and remembers his team winning the Pee Wee Championship in 1955.
After graduation, Pohlman inlisted before the draft in February of 1964 and spent 13 months in Korea during the mid 60's. He served for three years until 1967. He worked on honest john missles. Once a month, his unit would go out in the fields and fire rockets. He became an Army Sergent E5.
"Korea was a very poor country and I really didn't care to be there," said Pohlman. "It was quite an experience to be in a foreign country and to eat foreign food though. The Army base food wasn't very good. You didn't dare drink the water as the wells were placed only about five feet from the toilet. "
Being a poor country, products could be purchased at a very low price.
"You could buy boots for around $4-6 dollars and a watch for $2-3. We could buy records and stereos for cheap and we went back home with some nice things," Pohlman said. "Back then, the tallest buildings stood around two to three stories high. Today, it looks like New York City with tall skyscrapers."
The weather in Korea was comparable to the United States. It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
"Korean War weather was very cold, but they weren't equipped with items as we were in the 60's," said Pohlman. "I slept in a tent when it was five below zero. It had a diesel stove and it wasn't too bad until I had to get out and do guard duty. Then, it was down right cold."
While on guard duty, Pohlman said things could get pretty scary. They walked the perimeters with live ammunition and his job as running a switch board for headquarters to be able to communicate.
"Getting to know the men I worked with was nice and I am still in contact with some of them," he said.
Pohlman returned to the states to serve out eight more months in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
When he left the military, he started back at his old job in Concordia with a brick plant called Cloud Ceramics. The plant has been in business for 50 years and Pohlman just recently toured the facility.
"It is a lot different now and not such a back breaking job as they now use robots that handle all the weight," Pohlman said. "They gave me a 50 year hat and offered me a job, but I said I was officially retired."
Upon returning from Korea in June of 1966, Gary married Judy Lundeen. After leaving the brick plant, he moved to Beloit to work for the Boogaarts grocery store. In 1978, he left the store to work for the Mitchell County Higway department and worked their until 2008.
That same year, the grocery store closed and Ace Hardware was moving to the Boogaart building. Pohlman started working at Ace and continued for 10 years, recently retiring for good this year.
Pohlman has continued to serve his country through supporting the military. He has been in the Veterans of Foreign War since 2011 and helps with serving the monthly winter breakfast and anything they have asked him to do.
Pohlman is a VFW Quarter Master and when asked about setting up the parade from Commander Charlie Wright, he agreed.
"Every year, the people gathered in numbers for the parade and they liked it so every year, we did it again," said Pohlman. "It was a lot of work and I usually did it by myself, so I am glad to hand the job over to Shoemaker and the help he has behind him."
Pohlman says he has had a lot of friends with cars and such entered in the parade and has enjoyed seeing them.
"There are a lot of businesses involved with providing for the parade and of the VFW dinner afterwards," said Pohlman.
Pohlman contacted parade entries, made up their descriptions for announcement, provided them numbers and lined them up on the day of the parade. He will now be leading the parade as Grand Marshall and can enjoy watching it proudly from the side streets, as one of the individuals that helped keep it alive. ›
dreamed I would ever be up front leading the parade," said Pohlman. "It is quite an honor."